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Turtle Cake

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3/4 cup butter
1 cup water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 (12 ounce) jar caramel sauce
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch salt
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
15 caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Turtle Cake

A moist and velvety chocolate cake is soaked with caramel sauce, frosted with a creamy frosting, and drizzled with more caramel.

  • Serves 12
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Anything sweet that is labeled as “turtle” means one thing: it mimics a turtle candy. Those candies, which are my absolute favorite, combine caramel, pecans or cashews, and chocolate. Bite into one and you will experience rich chocolate, chewy caramel, and crisp nuts. There’s nothing better! Except this recipe for Turtle Cake, of course.

So, to make a Turtle Cake, we have to combine chocolate, caramel and nuts. This cake is especially rich and melting because not only is caramel drizzled on top, but caramel sauce is poured over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven. The sauce melts through the cake, making it very moist.

This recipe looks long, but it’s not difficult to make. This is a saucepan cake – the butter is melted, then all of the ingredients are stirred in and it’s baked.

You can use either pecans or cashews in this wonderful cake. It won’t last long, but if you have some leftover, cover it well and store it in the fridge. Let the cake sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you serve it.

Why this recipe for Turtle Cake works:

  • Heating the cocoa powder with the butter and water is an important step. The heat helps the cocoa powder “bloom” so the cake is more flavorful. That also makes the texture of the cake creamier.
  • Measure the flour correctly!
  • Brown sugar adds more flavor and moisture than using all granulated sugar.
  • Using a large amount of vanilla, up to three times that typically called for in a recipe, makes dessert recipes very flavorful.
  • The caramel sauce that is poured over the hot cake sinks into the air holes in the cake and makes it incredibly moist.
  • And the double topping of chocolate frosting and caramel sauce keeps the cake moist for days. If it lasts that long!

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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" x 13" pan with nonstick baking spray containing flour and set aside.


In a large saucepan, combine 3/4 cup butter, water, cocoa powder, and unsweetened chocolate. Melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth.


Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.


Beat in the sugar and brown sugar until smooth.


Add the flour, baking soda, and 1 tablespoon vanilla and beat well. Pour into prepared pan.


Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, and it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Put the cake on a wire rack.


Using a toothpick, pierce the hot cake about every inch. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the hot cake, letting the cake absorb the sauce. Cool for 30 minutes.


For the frosting, combine the chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/3 cup milk in a medium saucepan and melt over low heat.


Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth, then beat in 1 tablespoon vanilla and pinch salt. Pour over the warm cake and sprinkle with the pecans.


In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Continue microwaving for 30 second intervals on high, stirring after each interval, until the caramels are melted. Drizzle over the cake.


Let the cake stand until cool. Store in the refrigerator.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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